Toronto FC president Bill Manning advised the club are in regular contact with Ayo Akinola and focused on agreeing a new deal with the forward.
When Toronto FC recently announced their season-end roster decisions, it was noticeable that Ayo Akinola would be out of contract at the end of the year. This led to speculation the player — who is not yet eligible for MLS free agency — would consider signing overseas, pending apparent interest from clubs around Europe.
From TFC’s perspective, they have made it quite clear they want to re-sign Akinola and have been in regular contact with him. Speaking to the Toronto Sun‘s Steve Buffery on Friday, president Bill Manning said:
"“I just spoke with Ayo today. We’re having discussions. I’m actually going to meet with him and his representatives next week again, and we’ll see what we can do there.”"
It makes sense that the Reds should be focused on bringing Akinola back next season. He announced his arrival on the MLS scene in 2020, when he scored a team-best nine goals in just 15 regular season appearances.
This past campaign wasn’t quite as productive for the 21-year-old, although he still had his moments. He scored three times in 11 regular season games and made his international debut for Canada.
Ironically, it was while making his second appearance for the Canadian national team that Akinola suffered what turned out to be a season-ending ACL injury. The average recovery time for this type of injury is between six-to-nine months, putting him on course to be ready at or around the start of the 2022 MLS season.
Of course, there is still the matter of actually agreeing a new deal with the Detroit, Michigan native. If nothing else at this stage, it is clear how much he is thought of within the Toronto FC organisation.
Akinola was just the 15th player in franchise history to sign for the first team from the TFC Academy. As per Buffery, Manning said:
"“Our homegrown (players) are important to us. As they’ve grown and become pros, they’ve got to prove themselves too. It’s been a good discussion (with Akinola) and we’ll continue next week.”"
Another motivation for the Reds to re-sign Akinola, is when considering the current situation with their attack. They currently have seven forwards under contract for the 2022 season, including Jozy Altidore, Dom Dwyer, Ifunanyachi Achara, Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty, Jayden Nelson, Jordan Perruzza and Jacob Shaffelburg.
The only players among this group with any real pedigree at this stage are Altidore and Dwyer. However, there is plenty of speculation the former will be moved, while the latter failed to score a single goal in 14 appearances during his first season with TFC.
How confident are you that Toronto FC will agree a new deal with Akinola? How important do you believe he is to the club? Let us know in the comments section below.